tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN July 17, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
restricted zone at the moment. >> still so many questions to be answered. and there's going to be a lot of finger-pointing over the next several hours, days and even weeks as this investigation begins to intensify. let's take a -- kind of a look back now at all we know. at the top of the hour, thank you very much for joining us, it is 3:00 here on the east coast of the united states. we are following breaking news this hour. right now it is 10:00 p.m. in ukraine where earlier today the horrifying scene was captured on camera, the moment a passenger jet falls from the sky, exploding on impact. the tragedy without a doubt. but was it an accident? right now it appears very likely this plane may have been intentionally shot down over eastern ukraine. we don't know for sure. there's a lot we don't know. here's what we know right now. this was malaysian airlines flight a boeing 777 traveling from amsterdam to kuala lumpur in malaysian. on board, 295 people, 280 of them passengers.
15 of them crew members. there are reports americans were among the passengers. president obama commenting on that a short time ago. >> obviously, the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the russia/ukraine border. it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. right now we're working to determine whether there were american citizens on board. that is our first prior to. and i've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the ukrainian government. the united states will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. and as a country, our thoughts and prayers are -- with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home. >> the president making no mention of the back and forth going on right now between ukraine and russia. the ukrainian president calling this a terrorist act. of course, we should also point
out that on this day in 1996, twa flight 800 crashed into the water off the coast of long island in the united states. those inside the interior ministry in ukraine claiming this plane was shot down by pro-russia separatists using a russian made missile system, a buk, capable of hitting a target 70,000 feet up. this passenger jet was at a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet. cnn is on the ground in ukraine. let's go to victoria butenko in kiev and tom foreman with a closer look at what unfolded. victoria, what's the latest you're hearing from kiev? and we just lost victoria. we'll get her back shortly. let's go to tom foreman with a look. >> we've been looking all day at this buk anti aircraft system or
anti missile system as it is called out there. we don't know this is what was used. we're looking at the capability of the system, if, in fact, it could accomplish such a thing. if you look at the flight pattern, you see it came across the country as we have discussed, wound up down here before it went down. let me put it on to a more normal map so you can see more of what we're talking about. that puts the crash site down in this area, and this is russia, all over here. all of the green out here, this is all russia. so you're getting quite close to russian territory, 18 miles away from where the plane went down. that's within range. but also it could be within the area, because this is what we're talking about when we refer to the buk system. it is highly mobile, operated by four people. it has four ready-to-launch missiles on top of it. it's quite fast. from the time this thing is rolling to the time it can stop and be ready to fire is five minutes or less. the radar acquisition target
acquisition system can find a target and fire a missile in about 22 seconds. so this thing can be moving very quickly, can fire fast and can be gone fast. so no matter where this came from, if, in fact, it was a missile, the launcher could now be very, very far from where it all happened. let's talk a little bit more about the missiles up on top there. there are many different configures for the buk. but if they're using the 9m-317 missiles, each 16 feet long, each weighs 1,500 pounds, carries a 154-pound warhead, high explosive, 154 pounds, that's extraordinary. and all it has to do is guess close to the plane. it can't actually impact its target but get close to a plane and it blows up with tremendous force. and this is really important note here. look at the speed of this. 2,684 miles an hour. that's around three times the speed of sound. this is unbelievably fast. a missile streaking through the
sky like that. when you compare it to a plane like this, which is flying along at maybe around, let's say 600 miles an hour, you see that not only could a missile like that be guided in, because it is guided the whole way, to a plane like this, but it could come in so quickly, truly nobody on board, including the crew, might have any idea it's coming. the truth is, if this is what happened, this plane could have been hit and nobody on board would have the slightest idea it was headed their way. and we know from the map we showed earlier it is happening in a region over here, this highly contested region, where pro-russian separatists at work. this is crimea down here. so right in the hot zone. and certainly weapons are capable. one last note, anderson, i want to throw in here. we know they have the buk system
is and could reach across the border. we speculate as to whether or not the separatists have such systems. but in all fairness, we have to note that ukraine has been a very important partner with russia for many years in developing missile systems. and despite some difficulties of the late '90s, their missile system is robust here. their production, technology, knowledge. so the ukrainians would have such systems. not incapable of this. that's why we have to be careful about deciding if it was a missile and if so, who fired it? anderson? is. >> yeah. tom foreman, i appreciate that update. fascinating details about the buk system. i want to go to christian amanpour joining us from london. christian, obviously there is the human tragedy of this, and, you know, and our thoughts and well wishes and prayers are with the families of the 295 people on board, some probably watching right now, trying to get as much as they can.
it's very hard sometimes for families to get information directly from the airlines in the early stages of something like this. but there are also strategic considerations, military considerations, geopolitical considerations, in all of this. this is a potentially game-changing situation for the conflict in eastern ukraine. >> reporter: well, i would absolutely say it is. and to that point, we have just seen dmitry medvedev, the russian prime minister, has posted on facebook, on his site, condolences to all killed and all of their families calling it a terrible tragedy, making no illusions as to what happened or how it happened but very quick to post condolences. let's talk now about what we do know. over the last several weeks, there has been a pattern of aircraft downed in that very region. june 14th, a ukrainian transport military plane down. ukraine accusing and mentioning that two other planes, this week, were downed. and i had a lengthy, lengthy
conversation with ukraine's foreign minister on my program yesterday who told me that over the last several weeks, there has been no let up in the russian control of the border. in other words, of russians allowing fighters and material to come from russia into ukraine. he specifically mentioned not just mercenaries but tanks and anti air missiles, as he called them. so this has actually been going on and not just ukraine saying that. it's also europe. the chief european leader who has been spearheading the move to confront the russians over crimea and the continued destabilization in eastern ukraine is german chancellor angela merkel. and just yesterday she said they are considering more sanctions on russia, because they have not met -- vladimir putin, despite his promises to all those leaders at d-day which we all broadcast live, has not met his promise to stop the flow of
weapons and fighters across the border, to stop destabilizing that area. has not met the promise to have a contact group for peace negotiations. and the foreign minister for ukraine very clear on what hasn't happened and so the escalation of heavy weaponry coming over the last several days and weeks, anderson. >> we have seen that, certainly. and also the growth of russian forces, christiane on the border, more than 10,000 said to be there after a period of which it appeared that russian forces had dwindled in number, they seem to be rebuilding those forces. >> reporter: that, plus the fact that the international community, president obama, chancellor merkel, the new ukrainian president, petro poroshenko, overwhelmingly elected at the end of may, had wanted to have peace talks with the separatists. president poroshenko thought he
had president putin's support and acquiescence on that, there was a so-called contact group which involved the russians and other nations to try to bring this conflict to anent. and that has produced no result. the foreign minister spoke with the head of the russian sort of -- the russian part of this over the last couple days and said we need to get these talks back on track, because no matter what the evidence turns out to be over what happened to this malaysian airline flight, there have been these planes downed regularly over the last three or four weeks. in that area. plus this fight still going on. and there is no tangible evidence of russia doing anything to stop it, despite president putin's public calls for a peaceful settlement. so there is a double game being played over there and it is now an incredibly dangerous one. and obviously as you said, if this does prove to be the
worst-case scenario, it is a massive game changer in terms of this conflict. >> we should point out, christiane, there have been improvements by ukrainian military forces and their capabilities against separatist groups early on. we saw in crimea and elsewhere, kind of an inability by ukrainian forces really to defend themselves or hold on to territory. that seems to have shifted under the new president. they do seem to have whether it's a fighting spirit or more experienced forces. they have made some games gains on the ground against separatist groups. >> reporter: yes, indeed, they did in the region a couple weeks and took back that area. but the separatists moved down to donetsk and sort of the regrouped and are still holding out there and this is what the ukrainian government wants to solve peacefully. i asked specifically the foreign
minister about whether there was going to be an he escalation of their counter offensives. and he said we don't want to do that. he said we are even ready to hold video conferences to have peace talks with those separatists if they refuse to meet with us now. so even before this plane was brought -- i see you want to go live. >> ukraine government spokesman. let's listen in. >>translator: to establish the links of those -- of the militants, links of the militants of the russian federations. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> english, european, france, we send our condolences and providing to ukraine today, making public.
we are providing to all international media, to all people, to all relatives, people who lost their relatives, family members in these anti humanic crime in donetsk, we are providing those recorded phone calls, where two officers, two military officers of russia, gru, minister of defense, discussing, one reporting and one is receiving, the report the shutdown of the plane over the territory of ukraine in donetsk exactly at 4:20 p.m. one officer, russian officer, who is reporting is a terrorist, gru russian federation. and the person who received the
phone call is cornell wasili and also the russian gru officer. we are also providing to all media, international media, a russian cell phone number used by cornell guranan, while receiving the report. we also are providing the intercepted and recorded phone calls where terrorists are discussing to each other that they arrived to the place where the plane shut down. that they were recognized that the plane is civilian. and they also discuss that there are many, a great number of casualties on the scene, on the site. or where the plane crashed down.
we -- a ukrainian government, will continue to investigate this criminal case, not terrorist, criminal case. which was conducted and committed again by those. two of them i established at this conversation at least documented phone calls gru officers of russian federation. again, let me express deep and sincere con dole he sayses to all people who lost their dearest members of their families. thank you very much. condolences. >> it's been -- spokesman for the ukrainian government there. i want to go to noah schneider, an american freelance journalist who i'm told is on site. noah, you're here with richard quest on cnn.
where are you exactly? >> reporter: we are in the village a little ways north of a city called torez. it's kind of a long road and a big wide field where the wreckage from the plane is spread out and there is still emergency services working, but it's getting pretty dark so folks are trying to wrap-up for the day. >> who is in control of the site and what are you seeing? >> reporter: the site is controlled by the separatist dnr donetsk people's republic forces. there's some rebels down the road. but i think most people here have been hearing battles with the ukrainian forces for are a few days now, stationed not far down the road. at the moment, i'm not seeing
anything. it's pretty dark. but when you get here it's a gruesome scene. people said the plane exploded in the air and the plane rained down in bits and pieces. the plane itself, the people inside. >> how intact is the debris you saw earlier? how large are the pieces of debris? >> reporter: pretty burnt. it's going to be close to impossible to establish what happened here. there are big huge pieces still intact. but for the most part everything is burnt up and charred and scattered over a few kilometers. >> noah, this is richard quest. this the debris field, is the site, is it secured in any way or are local people able to get access to it, to get access to the property, to go through what's there?
>> reporter: i don't think anyone here in the village has even bothered doing that, to be honest. most are so frightened they have not come near. there are two nests of rebel fighters at the end of the road. but even they themselves are just in shock. most people here haven't seen anything like this, as one man said to me, nothing has happened in this village for 30 years. and then suddenly this. >> how wide a field of debris are we talking about? >> reporter: i mean, it's hard to say with certainty, but maybe 5 kilometers. it's a pretty wide radius. and the debris starts up the road. there is a tailspin, and you come further down and you see the place where the emergency services crews have set up a base of sorts.
some firefighters, rescue teams. and they're kind of in the center of where most it landed. there a white tent in the field where they are collecting bodies. but you can wander through the open fields. there is not much of anything. there is a chicken farm nearby or chicken factory, as someone said. and then these little ukrainian villages. dilapidated homes, and -- and not much of anything. >> so an effort has been made and is being made to collect the remains of those on board. >> reporter: absolutely, absolutely. rescue teams have been going through the fields the last few hours, marking where bodies are, tying white, cotton ribbons to sticks. so as you walk through the fields, if you see one of those you know that's where a body is. but there is is still a lot -- 295 people on this plane.
and i don't think they've found all of them yet. and it's too dark now really to do much more work. so people are trying to figure out at the moment what to do with this site for the night. like i said, it's kind of an open peeled. open field. it's unclear. they don't know what will happen overnight. and it's going to be really difficult for anyone to secure this in a way that -- would be certain that no one can come in. >> when you say the rescue workers have been going through the debris and making these marks for where bodies are, where have these rescue workers come from? are they the separatists? >> reporter: no, these are local men who have stayed and worked despite everything that's happening. they're political persuasion here i think are beside the point. they were called, and they came.
from pretty much any town that was within range. and they themselves are kind of stunned and have never seen anything like this. one of the firefighting teams putting out the wreckage was driving sort of an old fire truck and the fire hose had holes in it. so they were trying to put the remains of the flames and there was water spraying everywhere. i don't think they've really had to use it much. >> do you know what sort of capability they hve for caring for the victims of this flight in terms of -- i mean, is there a morgue nearby? >> reporter: they have improvis improvised. >> no, but is there a morgue nearby? >> reporter: yeah, so there's two towns, two larger cities nearby, one torez, and and both of which are rebel controlled. the morgues are still working,
so the bodies will be taken to the morgue there or in donetsk. i don't think the regional morgues have the capability to handle this number of individuals. when there was a battle at the airport, a month ago now, something like 50 people died and they don't have space immediately at donetsk, the regional capital. so it's going to be a big question. i don't think it's one that people on the ground here have quite gotten around to resolving. >> and obviously, noah, auto said, these are people, these are people taken upon themselves to do what they can to care for the bodies, to sort through this wreckage. has anyone there expressed any opinions about what happens next in terms of who should investigate this crash? we've heard through other
corresponden correspondents, through leadership from separatist groups they want an international body to investigate. are you hearing that from anyone on the ground here? >> reporter: yeah, i'm hearing that from the separatists, the people in the village, i don't think they have much sense of where it could go. the separatists are saying they want an international commission, they want to send the airplane's black box back to moscow for investigation. there is actually -- one of the separatist leaders is up the road from me giving a press conference of some sort. so i think they're going to put out a plan. pretty quickly. i imagine it will be nearly impossible for the ukrainian authorities to visit this site. >> as far as you know, have they found the black box? >> reporter: i can't confirm that one way or the other. i haven't seen it myself.
>> have they commented on that at all? >> reporter: they have been quiet. i haven't heard anyone say "i've got it." >> so darkness has now arrived. there is a difficulty in securing the area. and i'm wondering, what happens now? because what must be late in the evening now, getting late in the evening. what happens now during the overnight hours, do you believe? >> reporter: i hope there will be an understanding between both sides that there needs to be a night of peace here. and they're going to set up a permanent sort of base for rescue teams and firefighters. but there's not much they can do beyond wait. >> one point to bring out to anderson, europe's flight safety body has just closed eastern
ukrainian air space. >> noah, do you have a expense sense of how many people are onsite. >> reporter: dozens. rescue crews arrived a couple hours ago. there were two or three fire trucks and kind of spread out and so i would say dozens of local sort of rescue workers. and more and more rebel fighters. so now i would say there's dozens of them, as well. like i said, it's a pretty big area what we're talking about. so i haven't walked the entire perimeter yet. >> we have seen images, noah, of passports, a travel book for bali. are people's possessions clearly visible and retrievable? >> reporter: it's visible. it's visible and they're being
collected. that's one of the things these rescue teams are doing. as you walk through the field you see a man with his cracked iphone sticking out of his pocket. sort of people's -- clothing everywhere. most of it's kind of ripped off by the air. other suitis cases and stuff in a while along the road. one was telling us headphones. peoplen had been flying -- watchi watching movies so they have been finding lots and lots of headphones. >> have you ever seen anything like this, noah? >> reporter: in my life, to be completely honest. this is beyond -- i mean, i've been in ukraine now for a few months and there has been fighting and you can certainly call it a war but nothing of
this scale has happened. and i think that's -- it's not just -- it's not just the locals, it's not just the fighters. but a lot of the folks coming, journalis journalists, are kind of stunned. >> do you think this will change anything. >> reporter: it's tough to say. it will clearly change things. it's a pretty massive event. but it's way too soon to be talking about who actually did this. there is too much we don't know and too many possible versions of story to get into right now. i think the task is to do right by people on the flight. to have the decency to pause the politics for the moment and
collect the bodies and have a proper investigation here. how it change, you have to and mr. putin and mr. obama and mr. poroshenko and leaders. >> and noah, is an effort being made to collect passports, to collect identity documents? >> reporter: yeah. i mean, they're trying to collect everything they can. but first and foremost, bodies. i think that's -- and my sense is that's the rescue crew's number one priority right now. collect as many bodies as they can and gather them under these ten tents, these gathering points. some people are picking up personal effects. some people are walking straight by them. it's also, you know, keep in mind, it's kind of -- it's a long grass. and like i said, again, a really wide field.
so finding things like passports is chance. >> noah, i appreciate you talking with us. i know this is a horrific scene. >> reporter: yeah, absolutely. thank you. >> and i appreciate the way you've handled it and communicated it to our viewers. thank you very much. noah sneider, an american, freelance journalist, on the scene of this crash. >> one thing to point out from listening to this extraordinary account from noah. an aircraft crash site is an extremely danger allows but very complex environment. and not only for the debris of the aircraft that needs to be preserved so you can work out what happened, but the preservation of bodies. the respect and dignity. the personal effects. and that why in most cases you have this security zone that goes around it to stop basically -- do-gooders oral
well meaning people. i notice the separatists are talking about a two to three-day truce to allow refer work and recovery work ers to go in and do the job to get the job done. >> and i have been in situations where there are bodies and i head hate to refer to them as bodies because these are men and women and families just living their lives. it's for those families listening right now to our coverage, i hope there is some small consolation in hearing from noah that there are people on-scene right now who are trying to care with compassion and with tenderness for the victims of this crash who are trying to gather all those who have died together and who are trying to do their best to take
care of them as best they can. we're joined also by a journalist, victoria butenko, joining us from kiev, the capital of ukraine. what are you hearing from are the government there in kiev? >> reporter: well, one of the most disturbing statements we hear is actually from the locals in donetsk who say that neither emergency services or law enforcement agencies have access to the site. the territory where the airplane crash happen is fully controlled by the separatists and they are afraid this will interfear with finding out the reason and compromise the evidence. central government is trying very hard to show how open it is to inviting international
investigators. and in kiev, they said the flight did not experience any problems with communication. much much i appreciate your update. we're going to take a short break. we're anticipating hearing from joe biden. we'll bring that to you live. we'll be right back. big plans. so when i found out medicare doesn't pay all my medical expenses, i looked at my options. then i got a medicare supplement insurance plan. [ male announcer ] if you're eligible for medicare, you may know it only covers about 80% of your part b medical expenses. the rest is up to you. call now and find out about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. like all standardized medicare supplement insurance plans,
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remember, all medicare supplement insurance plans help cover what medicare doesn't pay. and could save you in out-of-pocket medical costs. call now to request your free decision guide. and learn more about the kinds of plans that will be here for you now -- and down the road. i have a lifetime of experience. so i know how important that is. welcome back to continuing coverage of malaysian flight crashing with 295 people on board. we just heard from a young american freelance journalist, noah sneider, on scene at the crash site where it is growing dark. and an extraordinary account of
what it's like, the people doing what they can, local people, separatists, trying to gather the bodies of those who have been found. many not found. and to echo what i said before the break, for family members of those who may be watching right now. there are people on site right now to do the best they can to care for the bodies of all those on board of this malaysian airlines flight, facting them together, the men, the women, children, trying to do best they can as darkness falls. a lot of new information coming in pieces. we want to check with jim sciutto on the response by
russia. >> reporter: the response from the ukrainian officials from very early on, the ukrainian government has placed blame for this on pro-russian separatists and russia for arming the separatists with missiles capable of taking down airplanes. i've been in with the ukrainian foreign minister and he said that russia sponsors terrorism and we hold putin responsible for this. so the ukrainian government pointing the finger at putin himself, who has played a double game here thinkisaying it wants deescalate ukraine and sending arms across the border and ukrainian officials saying some
of those arms and has caused this passenger jet to come down. so in very definitive terms there from ukraine officials. >> obviously, an important piece in this is who is going to lead the investigation, who is going to investigate this crash site. separatist groups there saying they would like international investigation. richard roth has been monitoring developments at the u.n. and joins us now. what is the u.n. response in. >> reporter: anderson, the you wanted kingdom has asked for a session. no timing given f. you're going to have an international nicris like, this you're going to get the u.n. involved. you're definitely, according to the british, they would like it
open with speeches. ukraine and russian have been going at it almost to exhaust n exhaustion. 18 or 19 meeting regarding the subject and done nothing to slow the combat. the other day language was introduced washing bank the warld, and other members have blocked any movement saying the russia russians are not making a balanced presentation. each side blaming the other. we have had ukraine government officials who have made their case. and as long as russia, a permanent member of the security council has veto power, little retraction contracting agreement on the diplomatic front. >> christiana amanpour monitoring events out of the london. extraordinary to hear from noah
sneider on the scene of this crash. obviously focusinging on human tragedy. there are many aspects to what is going on. >> reporter: absolutely right. it was an extraordinary eyewitness account of the carnage and although he said that villages are trying to do their best. as victoria said, this is a crime scene and it has to be preserved and it's come down in the heart of those suspected of those taken the plane dawn. this is really serious. and if the international community wants to it find out what happened, needs to get investigators there swaps. and the ukrainian spokesman who
has had conversations intercept between pro russian separatists and russia's military service. essentially, talking about this plane coming down, talking about shooting it down and then saying, oh, my goodness, this looks to be a passenger plane. to for those who remember, 30 years ago a plane was brought down over the soviet union in 19 83. and is the russians denied it rpg said it was a military spy pane plane. the past few days, the international community which is
holding vladimir putin and the russian government responsible for not closing that border between russia and eastern ukraine and continuing to allow the free flow of heavy weaponry, according to what the more than fini minister told me yesterday. this is a major ccatastrophe thd have implications in geo strategic meetings right now. >> and also the anniversary. there all carrying on the exact day in july 17, 1996, when twa flight shot down off the coast of long island, killing all on board. we are joined by general ryan.
at this point in this investigation, where what the data points you want to understand? >> well, the first thing to know is that if the aircraft was shot down and if it was flying at its normal cruising level of above 30,000 feet, we're talking about an air defense system like the buk, which has been mentioned already on your show, sa-11 or bigger. so nighit's not shoulder-fired, something one man jumps out of a truck to do. it has to be i a team of defense personnel personnel. so fired by a national military unit, either ukrainian or russia, or it is fired by separatists who have been highly trained in the testimony and who, by the way, happen to have access to a system which most rebels would not have access to. so must have been given to them
by some state government. >> general ryan, if you would hold with us, and i want to ask you about this. and he want -- israel's prime minister are has instructed the israeli defense systems to begin operations in gaza, not a huge surprise. this has been talked, anticipated for several days as a bombing campaign, rockets being fired by hamas militants into israel, as well as israeli forces firing into targets throughout gaza system and throughout gaza. christiane amanpour joining us from london. a dangerous ground operation by israeli defense forces, very tricky in the close quarters you find in gaza city. >> reporter: anderson, this had
is potentially just incredible to behold. this is the third time in six years, maybe are month, there have been these incursions by air or by ground no gaza. and each and etch we have one a hostilities that never ends the crisis and keeps leading to further crisis. and now with the world's attention focused on this plane this is the time when everybody has to be paying attention also to that conflict and trying their best to mediate some kind of cessation. we have heard that they have all sorts of plans possibly they may implement now as' ground offensive. including if the government says it has to do this, the military
has said if they want to really root out what we call terrorists, this is not a week's or one-month operation. this is a many, many, many month operation. so everybody has to understand what this in fact does mean. >> i want to check in with our wolf politics blitzerer, a major escalation. >> reporter: a major statement, anderson, saying the israelis have died decided to go in on the ground. let me read a couple sentences. following ten days of hamas attacks by air are land and sea and offers to do dehe isca lace. there is an ground eggs within the gaza strip.
to establish safety and security while striking' significant blow to hamas infrastructure. it looks based on what i'm reading, it looks like virtually all aspects of the idf are involved, infantry, artillery, intelligence, combined with aerial and naval support. the effort will also be supported by theis israeli security agency and other intelligence organization. so what so many of us had anticipated over the past ten days is about to happen. israel moving in on the ground into gaza. and as you know, the israeli military have activated military troops, reservists doing their regular jobs, spending time with their family. they were activated of the.
meant to units, maybe not close to the border but where regulatory personnel could move. and are now be sbribt deliberately on ground. a huge development unfolding between hamas and gaza. >> and wolf, as you know, we have all spent time in gaza city. it operating on ground is going to be very difficult and dangerous. >> of course. there is going to be a lot of casualties, palestinian casualties, they'll go after hamas targets and there will be inevitably be civilians, women and children and elderly caught in the fire. 1. million people people in this gaza strip, one of the most
concentrated in the areas. there will be plenty of casualties. they say in the face of tactics the idf will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm. there will also be israeli casualties and the public is gearing up for that. is rah israeli casualties. one israeli has died in this operation. more than 200 palestinians have died you but i expect that number is going up you. the cabinet let by benjamin netanyahu, they have concluded that israel has to go in. and even as we speak,er they're
probably on the ground. >> do we have a time table are are? we know they have been amassing troops along the board border. >> the statements says along the strip. they have already moved in. let's see how quickly those tanks, armor personnel carriers. i've been here a week, maybe more, anderson. the races israelis have no desire to reoccupy the strip. they have gave up the gaza strip. they want to destroy as much of hamas' military capability as they can. and then leave, basically. and try to crush as much of hamas as they possibly can. that's the operation. that's goal. we'll see how that's achieve if
in fact ifs achieved. but this represents a whole new venture. the israelis no longer striking from the air but how moving in as we speak right now, moving into gaza. >> in terms of rockets today or military action today, what's been going on, wolf? >> well, they had that temporary u.n.-sponsored truce that is humanitarian cease fire that they -- that both sides basically honored, but as soon as that was over, it was not only business as usual, are it was even more intense, more palestinian rockets and missiles coming into israel. the iron dome working to try to destroy those that jeopardized major cities or anything along those lines, sensitive areas if those missiles were going into some open area farmland or whatever, they wouldn't bother.
it was going trds a populated is area, they would. the israelis upping the ante. we heard earlier in the day that it was the most intense israeli activity they had spotted over the past ten days. so clearly even in advance of word that the israelis have made a decision to go in on the ground, the situation had been heating up dramatically and so that's where we stand right now. i suspect diplomats from around the world will be trying to get some sort of cease fire. i also suspect the israelis will try to destroy as much of hamas's military capability in the coming hours and days as they can before there might be some sort of cease fire. so this represents a whole new chapter in this current crisis. >> wolf, do you have a sense of how prepared the idf is for an operation like this? i was embedded with idf forces i think it was 2006 going into southern lebanon and they ran into, you know, much more extreme circumstances than they had probably anticipated. i remember being on a mission
that was supposed to be two hours ended up being some 14 or 15 hours, ves slow going, very difficult operation, a lot of booby traps and concern about ieds. is the idf ready for this? >> the idf, i think they're pretty aware of the potential for danger and they've had some nasty, pretty ugly experiences. remember all the experiences in lebanon where israel went in thinking it was going to be relatively, relatively smooth, relatively quick and turned out to be much more difficult when they were fighting hezbollah in lebanon. a lot of us remember covering that encounter. the israelis eventually left. it was a major major problem for israel. it was not as easy as some of the military planners had assumed it was going to be. they go into this, military planners told me over the past few days with their eyes wide open. they know this is difficult terrain, heavily populated area. they've appealed to the palestinians to evacuate,
especially from the northern part of gaza. they said get out as quickly as you can. here's the problem though. there's not a whole lot of places those palestinians can go. they can go south to gaza city. that's not that safe either as we saw what happened to the four little boys on the beach in gaza city. so many palestinians have evacuated, have left and fled to other parts of gaza. they can't come into israel unless they have a foreign passport. they can't go into egypt and can't go on boats into the mediterranean because that is area has been blockaded as well as by the israelis. they're stuck there, those palestinians. unless they can find some safe place someplace else, there's going to be significant casualties. >> we're monitoring the situation. you see a live shot from the gaza city. obviously, wolf, tomorrow is friday. it's a day when many people go
to mosque. it's a day of prayers. it will be interesting to see how that factors into the israeli operation on the ground. >> yeah. well, i suspect the fact that it's friday which is the muslim holy day, saturday the jewish sa bat, i suspect that's not going to be relevant right now. this is for all practical purposes, this is a war that's going on. and as much shoal i days are holy days, there's an operation that's under way, i suspect the israelis want to try to the achieve their military goals as quickly as they possibly can. as a result, the fact that it's friday, the fact that it's saturday or for christian sunday, i think that's going to be basically irrelevant right now. this is a new phase in this military operation and the israelis decided to move in. what they keep saying, by the way, anderson, the hamas has a lot of the blame themselves because when that will six hour egyptian brokered cease fire,
the israelis honored it for six hours although hamas never kept firing missiles into israel at which point the israelis said if you don't want to do it that way, we'll continue to up the and thee. earlier today they had a few hours of respite. palestinians could get out of their homes, do shopping, prepare. the israelis are moving in. no more cease fires for now. let's see what the reaction is from the u.p. u.n., are from egypt which has been working very hard to achieve a cease-fire. let's see what the u.s., the obama administration is going to do. there are going to be a lot of hectic phone calls going on around the world right now. >> i want to the go the to ben wedeman in gaza city. i want to correct something i said regard diagnose the plane crash. i said today was are the anniversary of twa flight crashing off the coast of long island in 1996. i believe i said it was shot down. the government said it was a
center fuel tank explosion though some people indicated they saw a rocket, there's no evidence of that. it was ruled to be a center fuel tank exexplosion. i apologize for misspeaking about that anniversary. ben wedeman joins us on the phone in gaza city. ben, what are you seeing, what are you hearing? what are your thoughts and any statement from hamas yet? >> reporter: yes, anderson. we actually just got the order to evacuate our hotel, which is on the gaza coast. that was after some fairly heavy bombardment of the gaza seaport by israeli boats offshore. and we are now headed away from the coastline. apparently that entire area is now unsafe. certainly what we've seen this evening, anderson, is the most intense israeli bombardment i've seen in the last ten days. tank fire, artillery fire, fire from ships at sea, air strikes,
definitely sort along the entire border but actually focused on the northern part of gaza. but what we're seeing is just strikes from the far south, far north at the moment. andersoned? >> ben, you have been there before when there have been ground operations by israel. you've seen what it's like. explain the difficulties, the dangers that lay ahead. >> well, the dangers are that as soon as israeli ground forces enter and they are very heavy little armed, there's a tendency for huge destruction of houses and huge loss of life. when i was here in 2009, their entire areas of gaza, of northern gaza that were utterly destroyed, house after house after house. and multiple examples of civilian casualties who people caught in the fighting. the problem is, and i think we've stressed this time and time again on our air, that
there's really no where to hide in gaza. the israelis have been sending out these robocalls, dropping leaflets, telling people to go to gaza city, for instance. as we've seen time and time again, there's strike all over the place. so for instance, this afternoon, we saw an air strike on a building right next to our office three children were killed in that instance. and, of course, yesterday, there was that incidence where four people were killed in gaza city, not the outlying areas where people have been told to evacua evacuate. gaza is bracing for a very, very bad night tonight. and as we were waiting for our car to get us out of the area down by the coast it, ordinary people were coming up and saying what's going on, what's going on? should we take our children? should we go, should we flee? so there's a sort of air of panic. another thing, a lot of power is off in most of gaza city.
those lucky enough to have generate sers have some light. for the most part, the city is pitch black. anderson? >> so it's nearly 11:00 at night there. are you seeing people on the street? where do people try to flee to? >> well, they try to flee inland away from it because clearly a lot of the focus of the bombardment has been on the coastline. so they try to move further inland to really the center of the city where they're hoping to be safe. but as i said, they're striking in the centers of the city, as well. we saw this afternoon. in fact, we had our cameras aimed on that house where the three children were kill this had afternoon because a warning shot had been fired. we focused our cameras and within ten minutes, that rocket hit the house. so there's really no where to go to, even though people know that will certain areas like the coastline, like any area near the israeli board ser dangerous. anderson? >> ben, are stay with us.
i want to the happened over conch to jake tappers who show "the lead" starts right now. >> i'm jake tapper. breaking news on two huge stories unfolding at this hour. a passenger plane crash in ukraine within 2959 people on board. and, of course, in in the middle east, israel defense forces launching a ground invasion of the gaza strip after days and days of trading attacks in the air with hamas, the palestinian militant group, we're going to get into all of that right now with wolf blitzer, are host of the situation room. he's in jerusalem. wolf, what is happening there and what are the israelis hoping this will accomplish? >> the israelis hope to try to destroy as much of hamas's rockets, artillery, mortars, some of the missiles, their underground tunnels. they are now on the ground. they are moving in, as you know, jake, they've mobilized about 50,000 reservists over the past few days, and israel's army is now moving into gaza. so it's n